It was, of course, the day we remember Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey – famously fulfilling the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9 given sone 500 years earlier. We know from scripture that a ‘multitude’ of Jesus disciples spread their coats on the ground, waved palm branches and sang praises to God (actually singing from Psalm 118) as Jesus rode by. That much tradition has passed down to us. (Palm Sunday is one of the few things tradition actually gets right!). We know too that this really angered the Pharisees! – but why?
Did you also know that not only Zechariah but Daniel also recorded details of this specific day 500 years before it happened?
David spoke of this day one thousand years before it came to pass! That is mind-boggling! Try to think of an event on a specific day that will take place 1000 years in the future!
But we discover that even Moses recorded details about this day almost one thousand five hundred years before!
In fact, we can go back two thousand years before this day, to the time of Abraham, and find it alluded to in Genesis 22!
So what is really so special about this day? Why does this day stand out from the crowd and demand our attention?
The answer lies in one of the greatest conundrums in the Bible!
Jesus came to reveal Himself to Israel and the world, right? So why, for almost His entire ministry, did He play-down who He really was? He constantly told people He healed to not make him known! “See you tell no man” was Jesus’ reply to those who wanted to shout abroad His greatness. He even silenced evil spirits from revealing His identity: “And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known“. (Mark 3:11-112). Incredibly, after feeding the 5000 the multitude wanted to crown Him and make Him their king there and then! But “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (John 6:15).
Whilst all this ‘downplaying’ his identity was going on, another strange phenomenon was taking place. On a number of occasions, Jesus’ enemies came to take Him by force to silence Him. Yet each time Jesus simply walked through their midst as if protected by a spiritual force-field! They just could not touch him!
But then, on Palm Sunday everything changed! Jesus not only allowed the crowds to worship Him as the Messiah (“Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD” ( Psalms 118:26 )), He actually arranged the whole event, telling the disciples to go and get the donkey, and riding into Jerusalem as a king (just as Solomon had ridden into Jerusalem as a king in 1 Kings 1:38). When the Pharisees tried to silence the disciples Jesus retorted that even the stones would sing out His praise, such was the significance of this day!
So why this day? Why reveal Himself now?
Because this was the one and only day, prophesied by the angel Gabriel (and recorded by Daniel) when the Messiah would reveal Himself to Israel!
The prophecy is found in Daniel chapter 9, and foretells the exact day that Israel’s Messiah would come – and He did! But although a group of His disciples acknowledged it, the nation slept on in their ignorance and unbelief. They missed the ‘time of their visitation‘ (Luke 19:44). As a result, Jesus pronounced national blindness upon them – which Paul tells us in Romans 11:25 will last until ‘the fulness of the Gentiles be come in‘.
The significance of this day to Jews and Gentiles alike cannot be overstated!
It stands as a testimony to a God who is outside of time and can tell the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10) foretelling events thousands of years before they happen. It stands as a warning to not neglect the prophetic scriptures and the signs of the times, and it stands as a reminder that the Gentiles have been ‘grafted in’ to the family of Abraham by faith.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.